MOSCOW - As a defender, Lauren Zuba's role on the Moscow soccer team wasn't glorious and her contribution rarely shows up in the stat sheets.
But the 5-foot-8 senior was instrumental in helping the Bears to a second-place finish at districts last season and, now, she has the opportunity to continue playing in college.
Zuba on Wednesday signed her national letter of intent to play for Northwest Nazarene - an NCAA Division II school in Nampa, Idaho.
She said her interest in health sciences - she wants to study nursing - and her relationship with NNU coach Mary Trigg helped make the Nighthawks the right fit for her.
"It was kind of a great fit academically and athletically," Zuba said. "I went down to campus twice and walked around campus, it's beautiful, and also the coach Mary Trigg and I have a great relationship. She's a really nice coach."
Zuba reached out to Trigg last year and was invited to travel to Nampa for a camp. After the camp, Trigg offered Zuba a scholarship to play outside back for the Nighthawks and Zuba gave a verbal commitment.
She's joining an NNU team that is on the rise under Trigg. The Nighthawks went 11-7 and 8-4 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference last season after more than a decade of losing campaigns.
Zuba said she's been playing the sports since she was a 4-year-old in "micro soccer." Her soccer career has taken her to Boise for a traveling club and to Spokane, where she played for the Spokane Sounders.
Also a 300-meter hurdler in track, Zuba said her strengths as a player are her stamina and her quick feet on the pitch - skills that will be essential at NNU.
"I run track as well so I kind of have the stamina I guess to make all those trips down and back," she said. "I have pretty quick feet, so I'm pretty good at tackling and just keeping up with the really fast girls."
Zuba also said that it will be nice to remain in Idaho for college.
"I like the area," she said. "I like to hike a lot too, so I'm excited to be (near) the mountains and still be doing exciting things."
Stephan Wiebe may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.